Lessons from a Little Game Called Golf

This is the story of my daughter Sarah’s subregion Drive Chip Putt competition…and the life lessons we found in it.

What’s Drive, Chip, and Putt???

It’s a junior golf competition where you get 9 shots (3 drives, 3 chips, 3 putts) and try to accumulate points, max of 25 points per shot.  The subregional is made up of the top 3 contestants from four different local qualifiers.  So, the competitors are all top notch.  Only the top 2 advance on to the regional contest.  No freebies here.  You’ve got to be good to make it on.  


The Story

Sarah is very good at driving the ball.  She hits about 140-150 average on her drive, not too shabby for a 9 year old girl.  To score points in the driving section of this contest, the drive must land in a 40 yard wide fairway to count.  Sarah hit all 3 of her drives out of bounds.  Here’s why…the fairway and the tee box were not in alignment (this is not uncommon but not the usual case).  From the tee box, the fairway went off to the right.  Sarah failed to recognize that fact and she simply lined herself up square with the tee box on each of her shots.   Lining up with the tee box made her shots be aimed left out of bounds, exactly where she hit them.  They were 3 good, long and straight shots.  Were it a normal round of golf, they would have been in great position.  But for this competition, it meant that Sarah scored a 0 for all three of her drives.  So after the first third of the contest Sarah was in dead last position, having scored 0 points.

In my mind, Sarah’s contest was finished.  The other girls were too good for her to overcome that kind of deficit.  When she walked back to me, I was sad.  She was not sad. Sarah had that look in her eye that I’ve seen before.  It was her look of irritation mixed with determination.  We talked about it briefly and then she said something like “Let’s go do the chipping. It’s not over.”  That’s my girl!!!

Long story short, Sarah did awesome at her chipping and phenomenal at her putting.  She sank her 30 foot putt to finish the putting skill.  As we walked up to the scoring area, holding her 86 total score, I realized my daughter had something special in her mind and heart that I’m not sure I even have.  Sarah had made an amazing comeback from dead last in 12th place to claim third place overall, and only 1 crazy point away from being in second…which would have advanced her to the southeast regional competition.  As it was, our DCP journey came to an end this year.  

That was a really hard lesson learned.  We talked over things briefly so that we could evaluate what happened.  But we didn’t dwell on the fact that she came up short.  Rather we chose to celebrate with her that she was determined and had a remarkable comeback, placing 1st in putting, 3rd in chipping, and 3rd overall.

Lessons Learned that Apply to Life in General

As I reflected on these events I saw a lot of life lessons.  Humor me as I share them with you…

  1. The mind is a powerful thing.  Sarah took a really bad thing and simply decided that she wasn’t going to be defeated by it.  Call it what you want: grit, determination, mental fortitude.  In the end, if you want it… you can get it done.
  2. The past does not determine the future unless you allow it to.  Because Sarah decided that she wasn’t done…then she wasn’t done.  Those drives had no effect on her chipping and putting.  It was the best chipping and putting she had ever done.
  3. Don’t quit.  Just don’t.  If you quit then you will never know what amazing things might happen.
  4. We need to think about everything.  Acting without thinking usually doesn’t produce the best results.  This is true in golf and in life.
  5. Alignment matters.  Things can be beautiful but still wrong, just like Sarah’s drives.  You have alignment in life when everything is on the same page and working together.
  6. Leadership is about empowering others to do well.  This is the gut punch for me.  I feel like Sarah’s failure on the drive skill is 100% my fault and my failure.  I am owning her failure.  She’s been playing golf for a little over a year, and I’ve been her caddy the whole way.  In the DCP contest parents are not allowed to give any advice, which is the exact opposite of normal golf caddying, where the caddy is purposefully there to help the golfer.  I have always helped her line up.  I now realize I was doing the alignment for her and she was aiming where I would tell her.  Never again.  I saw her alignment error but I was not allowed to help her.  I had not properly equipped her with how to evaluate this part of her game.  I just always did it for her.  My goal now as her caddy is to lead her to evaluate all parts of her game on her own.  That is good leadership.
  7. Learn and grow from your mistakes in this life.  If you grow from the bad things that happen in life then those experiences are not wasted, no matter how bad they were.  The road to success is paved with failures that have been learned from.


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When You Fail…

It is a given fact that Christians will fail their Lord. Each and every one of us will fail our Lord. Matthew 26 contains the last night of Jesus’ earthly life…his celebration of the Passover with his disciples, his institution of the Lord’s Supper, his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, his betrayal and arrest, and finally his trial before Caiaphas early the next morning. Amidst all the things happening to Jesus, there is a substory that we easily overlook and miss.

This substory in Matthew 26 is the tale of two men who catastrophically failed their Lord on the final night of His life. It is the story of Judas and Peter. Here are the related parts of the chapter…

Judas’ failure (Matthew 26:14-16 & 47-50):

Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, What will you give me if I deliver him over to you? And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.

47 While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, The one I will kiss is the man; seize him. 49 And he came up to Jesus at once and said, Greetings, Rabbi! And he kissed him. 50 Jesus said to him, Friend, do what you came to do. Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him.

Peter’s failure (Matthew 26:31-35 & 69-74):

Then Jesus said to them, You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered. 32 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee. 33 Peter answered him, Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away. 34 Jesus said to him, Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times. 35 Peter said to him, Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you! And all the disciples said the same.

69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, You also were with Jesus the Galilean. 70 But he denied it before them all, saying, I do not know what you mean. 71 And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, This man was with Jesus of Nazareth. 72 And again he denied it with an oath: I do not know the man. 73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you. 74 Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, I do not know the man. And immediately the rooster crowed.

The Aftermath of Failure…

Both men ended up remorseful and regretted their decisions. Here’s where the difference comes in. This is seen in the following verses, and I love how Matthew arranges his material so that Peter’s reaction is immediately followed up by Judas’ reaction.

Matthew 26:75, “And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times. And he went out and wept bitterly.”

Matthew 27:1-5, “When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. And they bound him and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate the governor. Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, I have sinned by betraying innocent blood. They said, What is that to us? See to it yourself. And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself.

Naturally, both men had deep pain in their hearts, Judas, for betraying our Lord for a little money, and Peter for denying our Lord as he called down curses on himself.

The differences between these two men in the aftermath of their failures is this: one man (Peter) chose to weep over his failures and the condition of his heart and yet keep going as he grieved. And one man (Judas) decided that he had no hope remaining and he killed himself.

What a terrible day Friday was for Peter as Jesus was crucified. What an even worse day Saturday had to be for Peter, considering that it was the Sabbath and Peter would have most likely just sat around his house reflecting on his failure and Jesus’ death.

But for Judas, there was no Friday afternoon and there was no Saturday. Judas chose for his failures to be the end.

The Choice…

Sunday was Peter’s day of redemption and hope. Sunday was the day that redeemed all of Peter’s sin and failures. Sunday was the resurrection. And here’s the thing that blows my mind…Sunday would have been Judas’ day of hope as well. Sunday would have been Judas’ day of redemption from his sin and failure.

Judas chose that his failure would be the end. Judas chose to jump ship before the end of the story. Judas chose to end it right before what would have been God’s greatest work in his life.

Peter chose that his failure would not be the end. Peter chose to stay for what came next. Peter got to participate in God’s great work on the day of Pentecost and the years following.

And here is the point:

Our failures are never the end unless we choose for them to be the end.

Jesus is able to redeem you from all your sin and all your failures…but you must allow him to do it.


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A Reflection on 10 Years as a Pastor

In May of 2006 I graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary ready to take on the world for Jesus!  It took a couple of months for me to land at a church and begin my pastoral ministry.  On September 1, 2006 I walked into the offices of First Baptist Church in Smithville, TN for my first day as their pastor.  At that time, I had already been preaching God’s Word for about 9 years.  I would go anywhere and say yes to every opportunity presented to me to preach.  But on that day I took a title that I had never before had: Pastor.

In the 10 years since that day, needless to say, I have learned a lot, and I would like to share a few of those thoughts with you in this post.  Two important notes before we begin: First, the following list is not in order of importance (or any order for that matter).  Second, these are things that flow from my experience and perspective having served 2 small to medium sized churches in the last 10 years.  (First Baptist Smithville from Sept 2006 until Feb 2014 & Bethlehem Baptist Crossville from March 2014 to present).

One final note: I have written this list in the format of “things I would tell myself if I could have a conversation with myself on that first day 10 years ago”

1. Being a pastor is a joy, honor, and privilege.  I truly feel this way with all my heart.  There’s an interesting verse at the end of Hebrews that says this…

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. – Hebrews 13:17

2. Don’t be afraid of the hard things.  It’s not all easy, not even close.  The Bible says we are to bring back those who wander from the faith; confront people in their sin; preach and stand on the truth no matter the cost, etc.  None of those things are easy, particularly for someone such as myself:  I am an introvert and very non-confrontational.  But I have learned the hard stuff often bears much fruit.  Obedience is best.

3. Don’t be afraid of the vocal minority.  What’s that you ask?  The vocal minority is a person or small group of people within the church who like to make their opinions known, often in rather intimidating ways.  Thus, they are vocal.  They are also a minority within the church but like to make themselves sound like they are bigger and more in number than they truly are.  You can’t run a church by doing what the vocal minority wants.

4. Every sermon won’t be a home run.  Most of the time I feel like I strike out when I preach.  There are many Sundays I don’t like my own sermon.  There are many other Sundays when I feel like the little boy offering Jesus his fish and loaves…then Jesus takes that pitiful little offering and does something huge with it.  I’ve come to this conclusion:  Write your sermon.  Place it in God’s hands. Let him do what he wants with it.  It’s not about you anyways.

5. There’s not time for Greek and Hebrew.  I had 5 semesters of Greek and 4 of Hebrew in seminary.  I was good at the languages in 2006.  Today, most of that is gone and I rarely have time to do much beyond a word study in the original languages.  It’s just reality for me as a small to mid size church pastor.  And I no longer feel guilty about this because I realize that God speaks to his people through whatever language we speak.  And we have some awesome English translations.  Bible software has come a long way and is very good at helping you with the languages.  I use Logos 6.  And speaking of seminary…

6. Receiving solid biblical training at a seminary is a true privilege.  At first, I thought this was just what you did.  Want to be a pastor?  Go to seminary.  But in 2010, I did something for the first time that totally changed my perspective on biblical training.  I traveled to and trained pastors in a 3rd world country.  These men were just like me: trying faithfully to pastor their church.  Only these men were doing so without any training and without and books or resources.  We had an awesome week together.  I saw how privileged I was to have been able to set aside 4 years of my life to attend a solid biblical seminary.  So, now I’m hooked.  I have traveled many places training pastors and it is always a huge honor to do so.  I love those brothers in Christ who serve him so faithfully with so little.  I also see this passage of Scripture in a new light…

Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more. – Luke 12:48

7. God has some really genuine, heart-of-gold people.  In our culture, the church gets a lot of negative press for things we say, for things we do, and for things we believe.  But everywhere I’ve been, I’ve met and served alongside amazing people.  The difficult people are there too, but there are waaaaaay more amazing, heart-of-gold people.  These people show the reality of the Christian faith in their lives everyday and prove that God can change hearts!

8. Delegation is critically important but really difficult.  So, leadership is really important, and it’s really difficult.  Leadership with volunteers is a very unique type of leadership.  If the pastor does everything in a church then it will make the church very sick.  The congregation must do the work of the ministry.  My job is to equip them and empower them to do so.  Delegation of ministry is difficult because many times I can do the thing I am delegating in a better or more efficient manner.  But, I have learned that delegating to and empowering people is better because they feel ownership of the ministry.  And the Lord always comes through!

9. Gravity pulls a church’s focus inward.  Churches tend, just as people do, to focus on themselves.  It’s just natural.  I think one of the primary jobs of a pastor is to make sure that the church has its eyed focused upward (on the Lord) and outward (on the world around it).  This makes for a healthy church.

10. Plateaued churches are not bad or dead (nor headed that way).  I completely disagree with all the doom and gloom research surrounding plateaued churches, and I’m going to tell you why:  It takes a huge amount of growth to keep a church plateaued because there are always people moving away, slacking in attendance, leaving your church for another, etc.  It’s that simple.  A plateaued church is a growing church.  Plateaued churches are reaching people for Christ.  Plateaued churches are doing good ministry.  Plateaued churches are relevant to our world.

11. (Bonus reflection) – The church belongs to Jesus Christ.  This takes the load off your shoulders pastor.  Both of the churches I have pastored existed long before I was ever born.  Both of them will exist long after I die.  It’s the church of Jesus Christ, bought with his blood.  God knows how to prosper and keep his church.  As a pastor, my job is to be faithful.

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Reading the Old Testament – Numbers

This is a continuation of a series on helpful hints for reading the Bible. Previous posts in this series:  general guidelines, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus

The book of Numbers has a rather simple progression: it begins with the old generation that came out of Egypt (1:1-10:10), moves on to the almost 40 year time of transition as the nation wanders in the wilderness and the old generation dies away because of their unbelief (10:11-25:18), and concludes with the new generation on the precipice of entering the promised land (26-36).

Here are a few hints to help you see the big picture while reading Numbers…

  1. Unbelief. It has been said that the opposite of faith is doubt. This is not true. Unbelief is the opposite of faith. And unbelief is deadly. We see this in Numbers. The people had constantly complained and grumbled against God since he redeemed them out of Egypt. And now they refuse to believe and obey. Thus God gives them over to their sin and they will die a slow death in the wilderness and their children will inherit the Promised Land.
  1. Reading 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 as a commentary on Numbers. The entire New Testament draws heavily on the Old Testament and many parts of the NT give further clarification or meaning to OT events. Such is the case here. In 1 Corinthians 10 the Apostle Paul says that the events of Numbers serve as an example to us to instruct us and to warn us about the deadliness of unbelief.
  1. Moses’ perspective. Reflection is a good thing. There is great wisdom to be gained in taking the time to reflect on life events. What does Moses, the man who must lead these people in their decades of wandering, think about these events as he draws towards the end of his own life? He records his reflections on the desert wanderings in Psalm 90. Moses had seen and lived the consequences of unbelief for those 40 years. That’s a lot of funerals, and a lot of wisdom. Of particular note would be Psalm 90:12, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
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Measurement in the Kingdom of God

wordpressmeasurementWe love to measure things. We even have quotes about measurement like, “What gets measured, gets done.”

When we talk about measuring, the image the most likely comes to mind is some kind of metric. We are a very precise and scientific people.

But how do we measure things in the kingdom of God? How do individual believers know if they are growing in their faith? How do churches know if they are successful? How do we know if we are making progress?

What is the standard of measurement for Christians and churches in 2 of the most common areas that we try to measure: success and growth?

How do we measure success in God’s kingdom?

For the pastor…if a sermon goes well? For a believer…if we can lead someone to Christ? For a church…if a program is well attended? For the musicians/choir/praise team…If you knock it out of the park and get lots of “great job” responses?

I think we all know that those aren’t the answers.  So, how do we measure success?

The answer is found in one word – faithfulness.

In the kingdom of God success is measured by faithfulness.

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ – Matthew 25:23

How do we measure growth in God’s kingdom?

We live in a world that is obsessed with constant growth. Companies get hammered in the stock market if they don’t meet growth estimates, etc.  Churches in particular are very concerned with growth, probably as a result of the recent (last 30 years) church growth movement. So how do we measure growth?

Attendance numbers? Baptism numbers? Quantity of programs?

Numbers do have a degree of importance (if nobody’s showing up there’s probably a serious problem), but we know the answer is not found there.

Again, one word – fruit.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. – John 15:1-2

In the kingdom of God, growth is measured in organic ways…are you producing anything?

When you measure the growth of your children, hard numbers are important (height, weight, eyesight, etc), but the vast majority of measurements are organic.

  • There are no hard measurements for your child’s growth in their music lessons.
  • There are no hard measurements for your child’s growth in character.

For the most part, we measure the growth of a person organically. This is true for the spiritual life as well. Are we producing fruit? Are we moving from being a spiritual consumer to a spiritual producer?

Faithfulness and Fruit – the measurement tools in the kingdom of God.  How are you measuring up?

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Seeds Family Worship

SeedsSeeds Family Worship released their 8th album this week, The Word of God.  Our family loves the Seeds family.  We’ve purchased their albums since the release of the first one, Seeds of Courage.

Why do we love Seeds Family Worship?  1.) Scripture – Their songs set Scripture to music in a word-for-word manner.  This means that Seeds songs are great for memorizing Scripture.  These songs work great for kids, particularly those who are involved in a ministry like AWANA that focuses on memorizing Scripture.  2.) Witness – Whenever you purchase a Seeds album you will receive 2 copies of the album, one for you keep and another for you to share with someone else.

Here’s the Scripture verses used for the new album, The Word of God:

Hebrews 4:12
Colossians 3:2-3
Deuteronomy 4:6-7
Philippians 2:9-11
2 Timothy 3:16-17
Psalm 119:9-11
James 1:22
Romans 12:9-10
1 Corinthians 16:13-14
Proverbs 31:30

Here’s the video of the title song, The Word of God, from the new album.

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Top Bible Study Resources

My friend and fellow pastor Bobby Williams wrote a post like this one several weeks ago and it made me think about the resources that I use in Bible study and sermon preparation.  So, I thought I would put this list of resources together that I use.

Regular Use

1. Lumina (NET) Study Bible online – This is hands down the best study Bible environment on the internet.  And it’s all completely free.  Most online study Bible environments require you to purchase access to resources.  Not Lumina.  Lumina is hosted by Bible.org and the translators of the NET Bible.  So, if it’s completely free it must not be good, right?  Wrong.  It’s fantastic.  The quality and quantity of resources is outstanding.  So, check it out.

2. ESV Bible online – I’m an ESV Bible guy.  I love the translation.  The ESV Bible online environment is excellent.  It does require that you purchase many of the resources they offer.  Here’s the thing that makes it a really good deal to put a little money into it: When you buy a print copy of one of the brands of ESV study Bibles (McArthur, Gospel Transformation, ESV Study Bible) you receive in that print copy a code that gives you a free download of that study Bible on the ESV Bible online environment.  It’s a 2-for-1 deal.

3. Logos Bible Software – This is software that you install on your computer.  And it’s expensive.  The great thing about Logos is that you can quickly search thousands of resources and they are all linked directly to the passage you’re studying.  You can buy differing base packages depending on your needs and then add your own custom resources.  The list of books, commentaries, lexicons, etc available on Logos is unparalleled.

Occasional Use

4. Best Commentaries website – Looking for a commentary on a specific book of the Bible?  This is your go-to site.  Best commentaries is an aggregate site that reviews and categorizes commentaries.  Each commentary is ranked and links are provided to purchase the commentaries on a variety of sites (hard copy) and electronic platforms.  I generally use this website in advanced planning for a new sermon series to cover a particular book of the Bible so that I can acquire the resources I want and start studying weeks and months ahead of time.

5. Desiring God – lots of resources, all free.

6. Books – I try to read widely.  However, I don’t generally read for the purpose of preaching what I read.  My reading is more about the formation of my mind…how I think.

This is definitely not the end-all, be-all list of Bible study resources.  In a way, we have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to Bible resources that enables us to choose between good and best.  These are the ones that work for me.  Hope some of it is helpful to you as well.  What resources do you like for Bible study?

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Who Are You?

The usual introduction upon meeting someone new are some pleasantries, “Hi, my name is _________.  What’s your name?  Nice to me you.”  And then comes the question, “What kind of work do you do?”

In our culture we define ourselves by our work.  Our work is our identity to a large extent.

But what if instead of asking you what your work was, someone asked you “Who are you?” How do you answer that question?  How would you respond to the question, “Who are you?”

This is the question of “being” as opposed to “doing”.  Who you are is of central importance. Who you are is much more important than what you do!

Perhaps you are wrestling with this question. For many of us the questions of “being” are not even on the radar screen. There’s not a category for wrestling with your identity. Usually we don’t even begin to consider these questions until we have a faith crisis.

We see this in Moses’ life. Exodus 2:11 says, “One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people.”  Moses probably had an identity crisis, knowing he was a Hebrew living in the luxury of the Egyptian palace while his people suffered.  After a failed attempt to do something about it, Moses fled to the wilderness where the questions of his identity would be suppressed for the next 40 years.

Then one day all of those questions were brought back to the surface as Moses had a faith crisis when he came face to face with God in the burning bush. Exodus 3:11 records his response to God, “But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?

His first question to God was “Who am I?”  Sometimes it takes a faith crisis to bring us to the point where we try to figure out who we are.

The questions of “being” are the most foundational questions that we ask and answer.

“Being” is the issue of character. When Jesus invites you to follow him, it is an invitation for your very person to be changed into who God wants you to be. It is a process.  Give the Lord time to do his work.

I dare you to go to the Lord and ask him, “Who am I?”

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Reading the Old Testament – Leviticus

This is a continuation of the series of posts about how to read the Old Testament.  Here’s some thoughts on reading the OT in general and the specifically the books of Genesis and Exodus.

LeviticusI know that Leviticus is your favorite book of the Bible to open to for your morning devotions.  But, just in case you’re not familiar with Leviticus…here’s a few hints that may help you understand how to read the book of Leviticus.

1. Don’t get stuck in the details.  If it was ever important to know and catch the big picture of a book, then this is the case-in-point.  For example: Leviticus 11.  Don’t get stuck on the animals that part the hoof and chew the cud.  Don’t worry about what all the birds are (What’s a tawny owl? a hoope? 11:18-19).  There’s a big picture to be found in Leviticus.

2. God dwelling with people.  The storyline of the Bible is the progressive unfolding of God’s plan for redeeming his people from their sin and restoring them to right relationship with him.  In Leviticus 26:11-12 God says, “I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.”  We know how the story ends…in Revelation 21-22 we are given the picture of God dwelling with his people for all eternity.

3. Atonement for sin.  Sin is the big issue between us and God.  Sin is the thing that prevents God’s dwelling with us.  And Leviticus is our first glimpse into God’s economy for taking care of sin.  One thing is crystal clear from Leviticus…sin has a steep price.  Leviticus 17:11, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.

It is rather easy to find Christ in Leviticus 16, a description of the Day of Atonement.

As you read Leviticus, keep in mind these 2 verses from the New Testament that help shed some light on what’s going on.

For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. – Hebrews 10:4

Ok, so what was really going on with all those sacrifices?

For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. – Romans 3:23-25

It’s been said that OT believers had a forward-looking faith in the promise of God, and that we as NT believers have a backward-looking faith in the fulfillment of God’s promises in the Jesus Christ.  I think this is true.  Jesus Christ is the center and focus of God’s redemptive plan regardless of the time in world history when we live.

Also, I found this post from Biblical Preaching to be helpful for understanding Leviticus.

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Reading the Old Testament – Exodus

This post is part 3 in the series about reading the Old Testament.  Here’s the introduction to the series and the book of Genesis.  We’re following this OT reading plan.

Exodus_downloadThe book of Exodus is one of the most important books in the OT.  It’s storyline is repeated over and over throughout the successive books of the OT.  God commands his people to remember his mighty works in delivering them from slavery by specifically telling the stories and holding yearly feasts of remembrance.  Below are some guidelines to help you get the most out of reading Exodus.

1. Book Layout – Exodus basically has 2 parts: Deliverance from Egypt (1-15) & Sinai Events (16-40).  I have a chart of Exodus available on the downloads page if you’d like more detail about the structural layout of the book

2. Leadership – Moses’ life makes for an excellent study on leadership.  Keep in mind this is not the intended purpose of the Bible in recording Moses’ life.  (See point 3 in previous post on Genesis about how to read a Biblical character). However, that does not mean there are not lessons for us to learn from Moses about how to be godly leader.

3. Major Events – Exodus is full of memorable events (the burning bush, plagues, parting the Red Sea, manna from heaven, water from the rock, the golden calf, 10 commandments).  However memorable those things are, the following event stands head and shoulders above the others:

  • Passover (Exodus 11-12) – The Passover is not only the 10th plague that caused Pharaoh to set Israel free, but it was an event full of typological prophecy about Christ.  Biblical prophecy falls into 3 basic categories or kinds. Typology (foreshadowing) means that an event in the OT is a precursor that foreshadows a larger or fuller event of the same kind that will be fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  As you read the Passover story, look for this.  As a side note, the Passover event will be memorialized by Israel through the yearly Feast of Unleavened Bread (see Exodus 12:14-17)

4. Nature and Character of God – Though Genesis records for us many of the things that God did, there is precious little information about who he is and what he is like other than what can be inferred indirectly from the narratives.  As an example, we learn from humanity’s original fall into sin, Cain killing Able, Noah and the flood that God is holy and cannot tolerate sin.

When we come to Exodus, the curtain begins to be pulled back on exactly who God is and what he is like.  This happens as we read the direct statements that God makes about himself.  Here’s a couple of things from Exodus that God says about himself…

Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” – Exodus 3:13-14

The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” – Exodus 34:5-7

What other passages from Exodus specifically teach us about the nature and character of God?  Feel free to comment!

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